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From the NIH Director: NIH 2021 National Disability Employment Awareness Month

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.

Dear NIH Family:

In 1988, the United States Congress declared the entire month of October as National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) to raise awareness of employee contributions from individuals with all types of disabilities.

On January 20, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 13985 to advance racial equity and support underserved communities throughout the Federal Government. In this Executive Order, accessibility is defined as providing equitable access to everyone along the continuum of human abilities and experiences. At NIH, accessibility is a critical part of our diversity and inclusion efforts and we have an obligation to ensure that all facets of the agency are accessible. In recognition of NDEAM, it is vital to highlight the significance of inclusivity in the workplace. With the theme Accessibility Matters: Now and Always, we recognize that accessibility is a priority.

The Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) will launch its third annual Cultivating Inclusion: Honoring NIH Champions and Allies of Disability ceremony on October 7 at 11:00 a.m. ET. EDI is also launching a social media and photo campaign to support advancing accessibility at NIH. This campaign is intended to help us reflect on our roles and responsibilities in supporting equal access and opportunities for everyone. To participate in the campaign, please visit the Accessibility Matters page.

In addition, EDI will host a virtual discussion with Ms. Ryann Mason, a Registered Nurse and Disability and LGBTQ+ advocate, titled Still a Nurse. Ms. Mason will be speaking about her experiences as an “RN on wheels” and the reactions of her patients, coworkers, and the public when she enters a room as their registered nurse. This event will take place on October 14 at 11:00 a.m. ET.

I encourage each of you to join me in reflecting on and celebrating diversity at NIH and our commitment to attract, recruit, retain, and advance individuals with disabilities. It is my hope that the entire NIH community will applaud and embrace diversity and inclusion in the workplace every day. To learn more about the 2021 NDEAM activities, please visit the EDI website and follow EDI on Twitter and Instagram at @NIH_EDI.

Together, we can make NIH a more inclusive workplace where we strive to treat everyone with dignity and respect and value our colleagues for who they are and their contributions to our mission.

Sincerely yours,

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
NIH Director

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